What VHS 2010 Is Doing: Nursing

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Emily Fitzpatrick picked Villanova's College of Nursing

Emily Fitzpatrick faced a lot of questions about her college plans. If you want to go into health care, she was asked, why aren’t you going to med school? Why do you want to do nursing instead?

To Fitzpatrick, who graduated from Verona High School this past June with the Class of 2010, the answer was clear: Because she wanted to be able to spend time with patients. “I like the personal connection that nurses get with their patients,” she says.

This week, the 139 students of the Verona High School Class of 2010 are beginning to scatter among 78 colleges, universities, community colleges and technical schools, across the U.S and in other countries. Some will be going into the military; some volunteering abroad; some will begin careers. Over the coming days, we’ll be looking at some of these choices to help the class of 2011 and beyond.

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Fitzpatrick is among the first to depart. Today, she will head to Villanova University’s College of Nursing, to begin four years of study for a career in one of the most in-demand professions in the United States today. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the country will need 581,500 more registered nurses by 2018, a 22% jump in employment. Their median annual salary in 2008 was already more than $62,000. By contrast, the BLS projects that demand for teachers will rise only 13%; median annual wages of kindergarten, elementary, middle, and secondary school teachers ranged from $47,100 to $51,180 in May 2008.

Jobs for doctors are expected to grow as much as jobs for nurses, and their salaries will be far higher: As of 2008, median compensation for primary care physicians was $186,044. But that doesn’t tell the whole story. According to a report that appeared in The New York Times last year, doctors must now devote about one-third of their day to documenting their work, twice as much time as doctors did 20 years ago. That wasn’t what Fitzpatrick wanted to do.

Villanova Nursing's Driscoll Hall

If Fitzpatrick’s choice of major surprised some of those around her, her choice of university didn’t. Her mother and father both graduated from Villanova, as did several aunts and uncles. But she insists that she hadn’t considered going to Villanova until she discovered that it had a nursing program. She looked at the University of Connecticut, Mount Saint Mary’s, the University of Delaware, and Fairfield University. A long talk in person with the admissions department at Villanova clinched her decision. “Once you visit you can tell,” she says. “You just know.” (Fitzpatrick found an interesting resource that helped her evaluate some of the schools she considered before a visit: YOUniversityTV, a Web site that shows video tours of colleges.)

Fitzpatrick thinks her studies at VHS, where she enjoyed both math and AP biology, have prepared her well for nursing. It also probably didn’t hurt that she was named one of VHS’ Edward J. Bloustein Distinguished Scholars this year. She had looked into volunteering at Mountainside Hospital, but it wanted a 75-hour commitment, which didn’t mesh well with playing on the VHS soccer and girls lacrosse teams, which earned her an award from the Verona Sports Boosters. She did, however, get first aid training for her two seasons as a lifeguard at the Verona Pool.

Fitzpatrick doesn’t yet know which branch of nursing she’ll enter, though the emergency room is a strong possibility. “I’ll do a lot of clinical rounds,” she says, “and then we’ll see.”

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Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citranohttps://myveronanj.com
Virginia Citrano grew up in Verona. She moved away to write and edit for The Wall Street Journal’s European edition, Institutional Investor, Crain’s New York Business and Forbes.com. Since returning to Verona, she has volunteered for school, civic and religious groups, served nine years on the Verona Environmental Commission and is now part of Sustainable Verona. She co-founded MyVeronaNJ in 2009. You can reach Virginia at [email protected]

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